Friday, May 16, 2014

Classifieds Scam

Here's an actual scam attempt that I encountered. The pattern is similar and looks believable. The general steps:
  1. Scammer will signify interest in purchasing item.
  2. Scammer will say he is working for some non-profit and wants to buy the item for a fiance who is in South Africa. He will ask you to calculate the shipping cost via Fedex and will say he plans to pay by PayPal.
  3. Once you give the shipping cost, he will ask for the email where he will send the PayPal payment.
  4. He will then say he will make the payment now and ask you to check your email for the PayPal.
  5. You will receive an email from service@paypal. If you are using Gmail, this will likely be flagged as a phishing email in the Spam folder. Notice that the email will have typos and will ask that you send the tracking number to or something other than The general content of this bogus email is that this is a new PayPal policy and that the funds will only transferred to you once the shipment tracking number is submitted.
  6. He will then say he has made the payment and it has been deducted from his account and that you should ship the item and send to PayPal the tracking number.
  7. If you ignore him, he will ask what is causing the delay in shipment and that the money has been deducted from his account already.
Here's the actual email exchange:

I posted an ad to sell my iPad on Sulit OLX and I got an inquiry asking if the item is still available. I said yes and he replies:
From: Micheal San Filippo
I'm glad to hear from you.My name is Micheal San Filippo. i work with United Nations and i want to buy the item for my Fiance she just travel to south Africa for missionary.

Am okay with your price and i will be including the shipping cost via FedEx.

calculate the total amount with the item and get back to me. i will be paying you via paypal payment

I ask him what the shipping address is and he replies:
From: Micheal San Filippo  
here is the shipping address bellow

Name. Onunkwo Anthony Emeka
Address. Toulon building Sunny-side
city. sunny-side
state. Pretoria
Zip code. 0002
Country. South Africa

I tell him the quote and he replies:

Okay sound good. get back to me with your paypal email address so that i can make the payment as soon as possible

I give him my email and he replies:

Okay. thanks for getting back to me with your paypal email address. i will make the payment now and let me know as soon as possible you have receive payment notification mail from paypal and i will get back to you

You'll receive several emails from service@paypal. This is email #1:

Subject: ***Notification Of An Instant Payment From Micheal San Filippo( Approved


You have an Instant Payment of P13,830.80 PHP  from Micheal San Filippo (

Payment Details

Purchased From:,

Transaction ID: 36427630DM419481W   

Email #2


We received a message from you regarding the payment that was made by MICHEAL SAN FILIPPO  "( today  which has not appeared in your PayPal  account . In answer to this, we want you to know that the payment is already pending in your account but will not be visible to you until we receive  your response to the payment  that  was made by the buyer of the item. This is due to the new policy of PayPal So we strongly advise  you to ship the item to the buyers address giving to you  and send the Scanned Receipt and the TRACKING NUMBER  to prove that you send the item in less than 48 hours so that we can release the money in to your account.
We want you to know that as soon as we receive the tracking number/reference tracking number that was requested from you, the money will be credited to you account within the next 24 hours of your response to the payment.
Ensure you get back to us because we do not want any delay in crediting your account.
For response email us at

Thank you for using PayPal!
The PayPal Team
Email #3

Subject: You've Made A sale - Please Ship Out The Items(s) Sold To Micheal San Filippo

Please follow these 2 easy steps to confirm the order and complete this sale

Step 1. Pack your Order

Be sure to package the item correctly. Use a sturdy package such as a padded envelope, CD mailer, or cardboard box . When appropriate, protect the item(s) with packaging material such as bubble wrap, foam peanuts , or crumpled newspaper.

If you are using your own label, be sure that it is legible. Use a printed label, or address the package by hand using large, block letters but you are advised to take the item to the shipping company office your self so as to make a safe shipment.

Please use your address as the return address.

Step 2. Ship Your Order

You are required to mail this package no later than the next 48 hours . Failure to comply may result in loss of shipping allowance, poor seller rating or suspension of seller privileges.

Shipping Method: FedEx  Express Mail Service
Email #4:
Subject: *** Payment Is Confirmed *** Shipping Details Is Required Before We Post Funds Into Your Account ***

PayPal is your partner in transaction on line

Dear Customer,,
This message is originated from PayPal company.We have received an order from our client Micheal San Filippo  regarding the payment of   P13,830.80 PHP, that was made to your PayPal account.The payment has been successfully made but due to security reason we have to receive the shipment tracking number before the next 24 hours for the processing of your order.

This a new measure we are taking to protect both our sellers and buyers against fraudulent customers.Once you have shipped the item, send us the shipment tracking number for verification after the number has been verified, your account will be credited instantly. 

This PayPal® payment has been deducted from the buyer's account and has been "APPROVED " but will not be credited to your account until the shipment reference/tracking number is sent to us for shipment verification so as to secure both the buyer and the seller.Below are the necessary information requested before your account will be credited. Send tracking number to us  through this mail :

Scammer will now follow up the shipment from you:

Hello, i have made the payment PHP 13,830.80, and the money have been deducted from my Paypal account and have gotten the payment confirmation mail from Paypal please kindly check your Paypal email address inbox and spam inbox
you should have gotten the payment  notification mail from Paypal

here is the shipping address bellow

Name. Onunkwo Anthony Emeka
Address. Toulon building Sunny-side
city. sunny-side
state. Pretoria
Zip code. 0002
Country. South Africa

A few hours later he will follow up again:
what is still causing the delay for you to ship out the item i have made the payment and the money have been deducted from my paypal account . please kindly ship out the item today and get back to paypal with the shipment tracking number and scan receipt for the verification of shipment so that paypal will release all the money into your account immediately.

Hope to hear from you soon.........

The best thing you can do at this point is go back to all the emails and report it as Phishing in Gmail so that the email address or content is blocked for other users. You will notice the scammer doesn't attempt to negotiate or ask details about the item being sold.